You Should be Reading This!!! The Sixth Gun
Written by Cullen Bunn & Art by Brian Hurtt, Published by Oni Press.
Published by Oni Press, this comic is a supernatural western that blends elements of noir and overall goodness. This is not the first rodeo for this pair as they worked on The Damned, also published by Oni Press.
The story opens with the young, attractive yet dangerous Mrs. Hume talking to her Pinkerton detectives. Mrs. Hume is in search of renowned mystical objects but unfortunately, all prove to be hoaxes. Only one of the items she is looking for is not a fake and it belonged to her (late?) husband General Oliander Bedford Hume.
Cut to a mystical tree of hanging men referred to as the Gallows Tree by one of the protagonists, Drake Sinclair. The Gallows Tree is a group of restless spirits acting as an Oracle to those who seek their knowledge. Drake Sinclair asks for the General’s gun and in return, he promises to burn the map that lead him to them. The Gallows Tree supplies both a name and place, and Sinclair is off without holding onto his end of the bargain.
Cut to a small shack in the middle of nowhere. A man lays dying by his stepdaughter Becky who is tending to him. With a gun in hand, he talks of his own death as if the gun allows him to see the future. Mrs. Hume’s Pickertons and several mercenaries attempt to steal the gun and most of them are killed including the man himself. Becky grabs the gun and sees a brief flash of the future. She tries to defend herself against those still alive but is ultimately knocked out. The gun is now bound to her and only if she dies then the next person to touch it will be bound to it as she is. After the remaining men have left, Sinclair shows up too late to meet the General (the now dead man), his gun and Becky.
Cut to a very well armed monastery under siege. The siege is lead by the General’s Riders, a group of strange, supernatural looking men armed with guns similar to the General’s. The guns were presented to the men by the General with each one possessing various abilities including melting flesh and unleash hellfire. The battle commences and of course, the riders win. We also meet a Undead version of the General. Unfortunately, General Oliander Bedford Hume is bound by magical chains in a coffin at the bottom of a well, which does nothing for his sunny disposition nor his hatred for Drake Sinclair.
Cut to Sinclair rescuing Becky with the help of his friend Billjohn. Sinclair, Billjohn and Becky escape with the General and his forces in tow. The group follows Becky’s vision to make a stand but unfortunately one member of the group will not make it. Also at this point, Mrs. Hume has obtained one of the guns and is found to be a hard kill.
The writing is top notch and Bunn is fantastic with the dialogue and pacing. All of the characters have their own voices and this clearly shows from the get-go. In the beginning, Bunn jumps from scene to scene but pulls it off without confusing the reader. He does a great job with the narration, careful not to make it seem too heavy on exposition and to help move the story along. There are great touches to the story such as the binding of the gun to the first person who touches it after its previous owner’s demise as well as the gun’s ability to warp the wielder both mentally and physically. About the only thing that could be seen as not coherent is the dealing of Sinclair shooting Mrs. Hume. The writing alludes to the fact that Sinclair knew that Mrs. Hume had one of the guns but when he shoots her possibly dead, he doesn’t look for one of the General’s guns.
The art by Brian Hurtt is rendered crisply. Each character’s face is drawn so well that they each have their own unique facial features. This uniqueness can be seen in Mrs. Hume’s wide eyes and Sinclair’s shifty eyes. Hurtt also does a fantastic job capturing emotion on the faces of the characters. The action scenes look chaotic even if a few characters are involved which is seldom. Hurtt art has put himself at the top of any fanboys.
If you love supernaturals, westerns and noir then you are left saying “You Should Be Reading This!!!”